Sunday, October 26, 2008

My cute make-your-own recipe book

This is a project that I've been working on and off for a week or two now, and I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.

I get annoyed having all my favourite recipes spread amongst numerous cookbooks and it's at the back of my mind that if anything were to happen to me, Mitch wouldn't know any of my tried and true recipes, selected from years of experience, or where to find them. (Not that I'd ever expect him to make cakes and biscuits but he would have to make dinner.) Is this morbid? Mitch thinks it is but I'm always thinking "OK, if I were to die suddenly, what could I do to make things easier for Mitch to cope with the girls." For example, I have a slim folder with all of our bank details and mortgage details and forthnightly budget and monthly menu and monthly shopping list etc in it for easy access.
Anyway, back to the topic. My answer to the "dilemma" is of course to write my own recipe book. I've tried a few different ways over the years but never been really satisfied with the final result, until now.

Presenting my "Sweet Favourites" recipe book for all my cake and biscuit needs.

I started with a A5 sized art sketch book. Mine was $4.75 from a newsagent but I have seen ones for $2 from "cheap" shop. I have tried different notebooks over the years and this is the one that I liked the best. This is because I prefer the blank pages to notebooks with lines and I find that sketch books have a nicer quality and thicker paper which is necessary if you are writing on both sides.

I divided it into sections with tabs for easy referral which is something that I haven't done in the past attempts, but which I think is really helpful. I prettied each page divider up by glueing scrapbooking paper and felt ribbon onto a page in the notebook because of course it's got to be nice to look at as well.
Here is my Cake page....

and my Biscuits and Slices page....

and my Scones and Batters page...

and my Desserts page....
and my Sweets page.

On the other side of each divider page I glued textured cardboard in the same colour as on the other side (I used a different colour for each section) which helped make the stick out tab stronger, then pasted a trimmed down page on top for a table of contents. I also numbered each page, not including the dividers, so that if I open to the Biscuits page and want to make No28. Anzac Biscuits (which I did today) I know to go to page 28. I did not start the page numbers again for each section, but kept them going through the whole book. I left 26 blank pages for the Cakes and Biscuits, 19 pages for the Batters, 17 pages for the Desserts and 9 pages for the Sweets.

I've started writing in my favourite recipes using my neatest writing (as I expect to keep this for a long time, this is THE recipe book) and a water and fade proof pen. This is important because in some of my earliest recipe books I can't even read the recipe anymore, through either fading or being spilled on (and washed away). Add a pretty fabric cover and you're done.

I now plan on making a new one for my meals, maybe in blues and greens and chocolates. I think I'll divide it up into sections like "Soups", "Light Meals", "Comfort Food and Casseroles", "Side Dishes", "Meat Dishes" and "Pastas". That should make it easier to plan my menu for the different seasons as well.
I actually think this would make a lovely present for your child as they leave home or become an adult or get married, so they can always have their favourite recipes that they grew up with, with them.
If anyone wants me to do a tutorial on making the fabric cover, just leave a comment asking. It's pretty straight forward though.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A change is as good as a holiday.

I know, I've just come off my school break, so why would I be wanting another holiday so soon. Well, I never say no to a holiday or staying home but I'll have to wait a bit longer for that so this weekend, while I was meant to be cleaning, I did a little redecorating instead.

I've said a few times that while I love the muted colours of primitive decorating, I've been drawn lately to the prettiness of pastels. What to do, what to do? How am I going to incorporate the two. Well, I've decided that I could do my own version of Spring and "Fall" decorating. Decorate with the cosiness of reds and darker colours and prims in the cooler months, and in Spring and Summer use the lightness of white and pastels to cool the house. So down with the reds and up with the pinks.

Here is the "before" of my kitchen hutch...

and here is the pretty and feminine "after".

And a close-up.

(I asked Mitch what he thought and he hadn't even realised that I had changed anything. Obviously it's not high on his list of importance. I'm sure he's just wishing I tidied up instead. I will, hon, this just helps me get in the mood and makes it a little less like drudgery.)

A lot of my furniture and accessories in my house are dark blue which I love and don't want to change, but I think that it works ok with both colour palettes. Don't you?

Here is my kitchen island with my christmas wax burner thingy STILL out from last year. The green and red doesn't really go now.

Much better.

And here is my Grandma's old Singer sewing box which I now use to store my cutlery.


...and after. Hmmm, something's not quite right.

That's better. Although maybe I should paint the wicker white.

And there's nothing like a hair change.


.....and after. You like? I do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tonight's entertainment is brought to you by....

available for purchase for 80 c from your local Op shop. Supplies hours of imaginative entertainment. (Although not always in the ways it was intended for. Why make boring aeroplanes and windmills when you can make crazy people?)

Title: "The Love" or "The kids have nicked the camera again".

Written and directed by Rosie and Ella.

Starring.... Dorcas and Dicko

and the Lady Jezebel and the evil Prune Juice.

Warning: May contain some juvenile humour.

Let the entertainment begin!

To be continued....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I know it's Spring when....

I have to cross the oval either wearing a hat or waving my hands above my head to ward off this guy.

The territorial magpie. He lives in the big gum tree by the school fence and dive bombs anyone who comes too close. Apparently this fellow particularly likes blondes, he'll pick a blonde head out of a crowd of many. Twice I've been caught unaware, daydreaming as I've been walking, but the swoop and the rush of wings wakes you up pretty quickly. I're only protecting your young, but look at me, do you really think I'm going to be able to scale the heights of your tree.

And I know it's spring (or if you're unfortunate enough to be a student, you know it's exam time)when the Jacaranda flowers come out. Places that before looked plain and unexciting are now a riot of purple colour.

And I've just noticed that my favourite bird is back. It's called a Storm bird and migrates from Papua New Guinea around this time every year. I don't know what it looks like but you can hear it's mournful cry every so often. My family all know it as "Mum's Camping Bird" because of all the good memories it invokes. In summer every year we go camping at the same place nearby, we have been since I was 9, and the Camping Bird is one of the sounds you hear. It reminds me of family and holidays and green grass to run around on and the billabong to swim in and lazy moments reading and fresh air and freedom. And it makes it more special that it's not around all year. When I hear it for the first time, it's special because I know that the Christmas holidays are near.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Saturday night adventure with my hero!

I was having a Blehh day today! Do you ever have those? You wake up feeling blehh, too tired from the weekend to drag yourself out of bed BUT you have to of course, the house is a pigsty, you're feeling overwhelmed and once you start looking there's no end of things that can contribute to THAT blehh feeling. It's a beautiful day but when you look out the window, all you can see is your overgrown garden and your washing STILL hanging on the line. And WHO used the last of the milk AND put the empty bottle back in the fridge. Now I have to have cream in my coffee. Yes, I've even resorted to coffee.

THAT was before. But I've been sitting here, browsing blogs and looking at pretty pictures, a cool breeze is blowing through the window, I can hear birds in the trees AND the coffee has kicked in. And I've been thinking about my post I'm going to write and how it inspires me.....

because I want to tell you all about - MY HERO!

Mitch, of course!
I wrote here about when Mitch won the Cruiser weight Title for boxing. Well, a bloke in Caloundra who had the Heavyweight Title asked Mitch if he wanted to challenge him for it. Mitch ummed and aahed, because that would be fighting above his weight division and he wanted to minimise his chances of getting hurt. But the lure of the belt was tempting and so Mitch agreed, as long as the guy dropped down to 90kg.

The fight was on Saturday night and I went along with some friends to watch. It was an experience, that's for sure. It was the main event of the night and they didn't get in the ring until after 10:30pm and by that time a lot of the crowd were really rowdy because they'd been drinking for 4 hours. The majority were there to support the other fighter, Matt, and I've never experienced such hostility and bad sportsmanship. It's not my scene at all. The girls were all skanky looking with cleavage showing and short skirts and the guys were all duded up and just idiots. The other fights I had been to weren't like that. They were more about the sportsmanship.

Mitch was the first to walk to the ring and they all started booing him and hurling abuse. Mitch said it didn't bother him but I was horrified. Then Matt, whose nickname was the Italian Stallion (original, huh!), came bounding in, with the Rocky music playing and really showing off. He was expecting an easy fight because Mitch was lighter and about 15 years older but I think he was a bit taken aback by how determined and GOOD Mitch was. He was a good fighter too but you could see him starting to panic a bit and getting agro because he was getting frustrated. After showing off in front of all of his friends, he had a lot to lose. That's when it all got "interesting".

Just before the bell went for the end of the first round, Mitch happened to land a shot on Matt's jaw. Now when the bell goes, the fighters pull apart and start walking back to their corner. Mitch had turned around to head back when Matt bounded up beside him and punched him on the side of the head, a good 10 seconds AFTER the bell had gone. I was furious. Lots of people jumped up and started shouting but unbelievably a lot of them were hurling abuse at Mitch. I've never seen a nastier crowd. (In fact, I heard one other boxer say he hates fighting in Caloundra because it's so "dirty".) Mitch, however, was great. He didn't even lose his temper. He gave Matt a mocking bow, as if to say sarcastically, "Aren't you a noble fighter," then calmly walked back to his corner.

They discussed stopping the fight (I think it should have been an instant disqualification) but continued, I think, as it was the main fight that everyone had come to see. But for the next 3 rounds, Matt kept getting pulled up for holding Mitch down and for trying to knee him twice. I was in the front row watching but by the third round I got up and went to stand at the back with my friends because I was getting upset....not at Mitch getting punched because he was doing beautifully but at the hostility in the crowd. It's crowds like that and fighters like Matt who give boxing the bad reputation. It was such an emotional fight that I was all trembly and weak by the end of it.

Outrageously, the judges ended up awarding the fight to Matt, a split decision, meaning one judge thought Mitch ought to have won and two saying Matt won. But even the referee said to Mitch that he should have won. (They judge it on points.) They say it's hard to win a belt off someone, that you have to beat them really convincingly, especially in their home territory. But you know what, Mitch didn't mind that much, because he knew he had fought well. and honourably.
And that's what makes him my hero. He didn't lose his temper, he didn't resort to dirty tactics to retaliate, he just boxed well which is what it's all about to him, and just outshone the character of the other boxer. Matt, in trying to make himself look better made himself look cowardly and Mitch like a hero. Many people came up to Mitch after the fight, congratulating him, saying he should have won the fight, respecting him for the sportsmanship he displayed. And I think that's what will stay in the minds of many people who watched that night, that it didn't end up being a matter of who won or lost, but who showed the greater moral character.

P.S. I just watched an item on the Sunshine Coast news that they had on the fight and it was so biased it makes me mad. They edited it to make Mitch look bad and interviewed Matt who was accusing Mitch of low blows and dirty tactics. It had Matt saying that he had challenged Mitch to a rematch (that's true) and that it was an easy fight and could knock him out in 2 rounds. What a $*#!. Mitch said he could have fought another 6 rounds afterwards whereas Matt was totally puffed by the end. Fume, fume!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Little cupcake or big?

Rosie wanted to make some cupcakes yesterday...big ones and cute mini ones. Sure, hon!
I've tried to raise my girls' to be independent and it makes me proud to watch her measure the ingredients and to be able to bake by herself. Although it's still nice to do it together.

Sometimes as I look at her, especially with her hair all back and elegant, and with her growing so tall, it strikes me how my little girl is growing up. It makes me proud and sad at the same time. She's on the threshold...she still likes to play with her toys but at other times is so mature....with her language, her attitude to school and life and even how she dresses herself.

Big or little? It doesn't matter, as long as she's sweet!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My pretties

These are just a few things that I bought in the last week.

Can you actually believe I ummed and aahed over these milkshake cups and walked out of the St Vinnies and hopped in the car, before turning around and buying the blue ones. Yes, just the blue. I took them home and showed Rosie who usually scorns ANYTHING bought secondhand (how gross) but these she liked enough to get past that. I told her I was tempted to buy the pink ones as well so we both went straight back and bought them too. If you leave things too long at op shops, they get snapped up. They were $8 for each set of four which I thought was a little expensive BUT they are practicaly brand new and if I bought them in the kitchen shop here, they would be $8 EACH. We've been having so many milkshakes just because they look so pretty.

But wait, there are only 3 pink cups in the above picture. That's because they are good for this too.

I also bought the little pink tin for 50c for Rosie to keep her hairbands in.

I scored these 3 magazines for 80c each as well, and I've noticed that I've been showing a definate lean towards things pastel and pretty lately.

Now here's something not that pretty but they will be when I put them in my garden and grow vines or sweet peas up them, don't you think. I was considering painting them white but they are pretty badly rusted and I don't know if it would be worth the effort of preparing them.

Bedroom Update: I'm going to paint the last wall with undercoat today then I can finally start painting with colour. Is anyone else as slow as me? I certainly could never be on one of those DIY shows where they complete a room in a weekend.

Friday, October 3, 2008

We're being very industrious....

but I'm not painting. I've had enough! These ARE my holidays, dammit, and apart from that first weekend down in Brisbane,

and doing this on Sunday.....
all of my days have been spent simply slaving away. (My, aren't I dramatic!) So I decided I needed a break, I needed to be creative, I needed to look at something else other than walls or ceilings all the time. (Ceilings are a pain in the neck...hee hee.)

So instead I did some of this...

with some of this pretty material.

And it is for the new bedroom after all, so it does count. This is just a sneak preview, I'll show you the finished result soon (I hope).

And my helpful hubby was busy doing this for me (as his payoff for not painting).

I give him the plan, with rough measurements,

he obliges,

with some interference from me. ("No, cut that thing off there. No, I want it like this.") This is the plan for the shelves to go over the girls' beds for their favourite books and ornaments.

He made this as well, which is going to be a bench/storage box for the girls' to put their shoes in.

Yes, I'm lucky to have a husband whose handy with the tools (and patient with me). And I'll get back to painting that bedroom soon, I promise.

Get to know me

  • I love the smell of cinnamon and vanilla.
  • My favourite flowers are daisies.
  • My favourite trees are pine trees.
  • I always like to have the bickie jar full and a cake on the cake stand. I know...not that healthy, but so good to look at.
  • Autumn is my favourite month, although I do wish we had more of a change of colours up here in Queensland.
  • I love Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder. They started my love affair with "old-fashioned" stuff.
  • I'm a boots and jeans kind of girl, but also love vintage skirts and dresses.
  • I like sewing and am in love with quilts at the moment.
  • I love reading. (I have a weakness for archeological thrillers and historical romances, but not Mills and Boon-type ones.)
  • I love old houses with character. No new estate houses for me. (Sorry Rosie.)
  • I love vintage/cottage/farmhouse decorating and pretty pinks and blues, with a splash of red for colour.
  • Polka dots can make me sigh with delight.
  • I have 4 chooks. They are MY pets. Another tick on my dream-come-true chart.
  • I don't eat dessert much any more. I'm not dieting, I just don't want it. (Does that mean I'm growing up if I say no to an icecream cone?)
  • I'll still always say yes to chocolate though!
  • I like to sit on the front stairs in the sun, to drink my morning cup of tea, while I contemplate what to do in the garden.
  • I've got the gardening bug again recently. It comes and goes with the weather. I'm envisioning cottage flowers in pink, blue and white to go with my green picket fence.